Skip to main content

Full text of "A history of Persia"

See other formats

2i4                  HISTORY OF PERSIA                 CHAP,
proposed the subjugation of China, on the double ground
that the race or Chengiz had been expelled from that
empire and also that the enterprise would be a holy war.
The proposal was accepted with acclamation, two hundred
thousand picked men were equipped, and the great army
began its march. The Jaxartes was crossed at Otrar, the
city which first saw the hordes of Chengiz Khan, and there
the sudden illness and death of Tamerlane put an end to
the enterprise.
His Character and Achievements.  Tamerlane, the
" Lord of the Conjunctions/'l was the greatest Asiatic
conqueror known in history. The son of a petty
chieftain, he was not only the bravest of the brave, but
also profoundly sagacious, generous, experienced, and
persevering ; and the combination of these qualities made
him an unsurpassed leader of men and a very god of war
adored by all ranks. Malcolm brands him for a massacre
of his prisoners at Delhi, but, awful though this was, it
was dictated by imperative military exigencies. Did not
Napoleon act in a similar manner in the last year of the
eighteenth century ? In the Institutes it is laid down
that every soldier surrendering should be treated with
honour and regard, a rule which, in striking contrast with
the customs prevailing at the period, is remarkable for its
humane spirit.
The object of Tamerlane was glory, and, as in the
case of all conquerors ancient or modern, his career was
attended by terrible bloodshed. He sometimes ordered
massacres by way of retribution or from policy, but there
were few that had their origin in pure savagery. Again,
Tamerlane was a devout Moslem, who, though he took
advantage of the tenets of Islam for his own aggrandise*,-,
ment, was nevertheless a patron of learned men, a founder
of mosques and colleges, a writer of some merit, and fond
of the game of chess. He was also careful to allow no
favourites, but decided everything of importance himself,2
1  In the East it is believed that the great conjunctions of the planets portend the
advent of super-men.
2  The first of his twelve maxims runs:  " It is necessary that his words and his
actions be his own.   That is to say, that his soldiers and his subjects may know that
what the king sayeth and doeth, he sayeth and cloeth for himself 5  and that no other
person hath influence therein."